Director: Ari Sandel
Cast: Mae Whitman, Allison Janney, Robbie Amell, Bella Thorne
There are plenty of frustrating and unlikable things about chick flicks and American high school based comedies. For one, neither of those kinds of movies exist within the realm of reality. The films are so far from real life that they look silly while trying to impart some 'life lessons' through their absurdities. And second, most of the chick flicks look down upon women — female characters are caricaturist and the films expect their audience to be as dumb as them. Also, many times the high school characters are played by actors who are almost 30 years old.
This is one film where the journey is more fun than the final outcome
Very few good chick flicks and high school comedies have been made — two of the recent ones include 'Pitch Perfect' and 'Easy A'. 'The Duff' joins the rank of this rare category of films that is both entertaining and likable. This film stars Mae Whtiman (in what surely is her breakout role) as the quintessential normal American teenager with friends, a guy she has eyes for, and high school-ey clothes. Things go crazy with her when she gets to know that she is being referred to as the Designated Ugly Fat Friend aka The Duff to make her other friends look hotter. She now has only one choice — to make a deal with the rat to help her un-Duff in return for helping him pass exams.
The premise is eyeroll inducing for sure, pretty much in line with high school comedies. The thing is, despite such a flimsy plot the film still manages to be funny and entertaining thanks to Whitman's screen presence and performance. Granted, she's not the Duff at all — she's attractive and incredibly funny so casting her in the role was a cheat. Whitman's comic timing is reminiscent of Emma Stone in 'Easy A', and she can do a lot of physical comedy, too.
The story is predictable right until the very end, but this is one film where the journey is more fun than the result. There are plenty of silly and smart laughs, and the back and forth Whitman has with her friends and foes and especially Robbie Amel is enough to keep to you chuckling in your seat. There's some comic relief also from Bella Thorne who plays the quintessential high school witch. The icing on the cake is Allison Janney as the protagonist's mom who moonlights as a self help guru and The Hangover's Ken Jeong as a teacher who sides with her. It's easy laughs and easy entertainment, and an easy recco.
Watch the trailer of 'The Duff'
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